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As the eastern state celebrates Odisha Day today, let’s take a moment to acknowledge its stunning natural beauty. Odisha’s lush green locales serve as the perfect offbeat vacay for the hipster nature lover. With temples and monuments, wildlife and flora, beaches, mountains and waterfalls, Odisha has something for everyone.

Rightly known as the Goa of the East, Odisha (formerly Orissa) abounds with pristine beaches. Take your pick from the unspoiled Chandipur beach, Rushikulya with its serene waters, or Chandrabhaga beach if a divine connection is what you’re seeking.

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Apart from beaches, it is home to sprawling sanctuaries and reserves spread over 6,611 square kilometres—teeming with rhinos, crocodiles, egrets and many, many more magnificent species that you can find nowhere else.

If you wish to leap into nature’s lap with your next vacation, consider a trip to Odisha and while you’re there, make sure you don’t miss these delightful sites:

1. Spot Dolphins At Satapada

Home to around a 100-odd dolphins of the endangered Irrawaddy species, and a multitude of other sea-life, Satapada jetty is part of the beautiful Chilika Lake. Grab an early morning ferry to Satapada; it’s the best time to spot dolphins. The Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) organises daily tours from Puri to Satapada. The OTDC-managed Yatri Niwas and other such accommodation options make it easy to stay back and catch the sunrise or sunset.

2. Frolic In The Snow At Daringbadi

In the otherwise hot state, Daringbadi is the only place that experiences snowfall in the winter months, with temperatures plummeting to negative figures. It is famed as Odisha’s very own Kashmir—a small hill station at an altitude of 3,000 feet located in the Kandhamal district. To get there, take a train to Brahmapur station and then take a bus or private cab to Daringbadi.

3. Experience Oriya Culture At Raghurajpur

A fine assemblage of artwork, handicrafts and rural Oriya skills at work, the quaint village of Raghurajpur showcases the very best of Odisha’s talents. Learn about Odisha’s fine art culture ‘Pattachitra’, or shop for palm leaf inscriptions, stone and wood carvings, papier mache, filigree work, applique, terracotta, sodhai work, cow dung toys and mural paintings here.

4. Enjoy The Architecture Of The Caves

An exquisite blend of manmade and natural caves, Udaygiri and Khandagiri are ornately carved with literary Brahmi inscriptions and impeccable sculptures. If you’re in or near Bhubaneshwar, you can’t miss these rustic caves. Udaygiri contains 15 caves while Khandagiri is a group of 18 caves which are examples of archaeological finesse and historical importance.

5. Soak In The Sun At Chandrabhaga Beach

Abrim with pious energy, Chandrabhaga Beach hosts its very own seven-day fair every year, in honor of the Sun God. Its proximity to the Konark Sun Temple and its pristine waters make this beach the perfect locale for a quick dip, or for a long, sandy stroll.

6. Melt Into Nature At Simlipal National Park

Odisha boasts a huge number of wildlife reserves, sanctuaries, and zoological parks. Head to Simlipal to marvel at the rich diversity of wildlife here. Situated in the Mayurbhanj district, Simlipal is home to elephants, crocodiles, sambar deer, barking deer and chausingha (four-horned antelope), along with a big variety of fauna. Simlipal’s tinkling waterfalls and serene greenery are the perfect cure to your city life blues.

The tourism department in Odisha is going all out to promote eco-tourism in the state, pulling out all stops in showcasing its glittering diversity and wildlife. If you’re planning a trip to Odisha soon, check out Odisha’s tourism site otdc.in for bookings, deals, tours and more.

Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar

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